Decoding Igbo leaders’ body languages
By Godson Offoaro
Monday, February 06, 2012

Eseife

Often, some non-Igbo in Nigeria and elsewhere paint the Igbo nation and its people with a brush that drip with subjective inanities and pinching negativism. But this, we must admit from the outset, largely, depends on who’s talking. The Ijaw right or wrong, has his impression of the Igbo; the Ogoni too. The Yoruba, the Ebira, the Fulani, the Idoma as well as the Hausa, all have their unspoken but better spoken collective impressions of the Igbo. In one breath, they appear not to like the Igbo; in another, they appear not able do without the Igbo.

To put the records straight, the British, it was who first noted the runaway vibrancy and scatterbrain disposition of the Igbo. No wonder they did everything within their reach to squelch it, or better still, to tame it. Yes, to tame the innate republicanism of a people. There can be no doubt that some, if not most of the things said about the Igbo by her detractors are true; think of it deeply, all the stories told about the Igbo by the rest couldn’t have been deliberately slanted to achieve a predetermined picture of the Igbo race. There must, therefore, be some elements of truth in this subjective interpretation of the Igbo psyche.

But of all the errors committed by some commentators while interpreting the Igbo, that of generalization takes a front seat position. For example, they say Igbo are clannish and tactless. Reader, you answer that question. Are they? Maybe so. Maybe not. They say the Igbo are belligerent. They say the Igbo are domineering. Pompous. Noisy. Arrogant. They say a lot of other unprintable things about the Igbo. Sometimes, it involves in your face condescending name-calling: Nyamiri, Kobokobo, aje okuta ma mu omi, Okoro et al. In doubt? Take a trip to Naijapolitics.com to see group naked hatred of the Igbo go virile.

Now, how come that a nation which has once been trademarked as war-like, industrious, steadfast, intelligent, resilient, belligerent, no nonsense, tit for tat, suddenly, now appear to be knee-jerked? Blame it all on the civil war and its results? You may be wrong. Blame it on greed? You may be right. How did the mighty fall that the Igbo who was once known and appropriately addressed for his ‘an eye for an eye’ retaliatory disposition that anchored on a kind of belief that rested on the possession of higher moral grounds in every facet of life, wait this long for someone to direct him?

In the case of Madalla. In the case of Damaturu. In the case of Kano. In that case of Akaluka. In the case of the Adazi 12. In the case of Jos and Kaduna! In the case of marginalization; in the case of a second bridge across the Niger; in the case of state creation imbalance; in the case with all that is Nigeria. Who caged the Igbo? Is he a victim of his own success measured in monetary and ultramontane material acquisition – economic interests; has he become so selfish as to brush aside collective Igbo group interests; is it the mark of group coming of age and with it a rudderless disposition?

Is it a case of cheap, compromised leadership or what? Are the present Igbo truly the scions of Nnamdi Azikiwe and Michael Okpara? Which Igbo leadership is it that we read about these days? Is it that of Sam Mbakwe or of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and his cousin, Chukwuma Nzeogwu? It certainly couldn’t have been the Igbo of Akanu Ibiam.

Which two Igbo leaderships sat in Enugu a week ago or so to produce two conflicting, watered down communiqués on the massacre of the Igbo in northern Nigeria? One can imagine the subdued and sometimes dignified shouting that pervaded the emotion-laden Nike Lake Resort or wherever it was that the Igbo political leaders met last week in Enugu.

The howling that characterized the respected leaders’ (eighty five of them) rubbing of the minds on such a very sensitive issue as the massacre of the Igbo in parts of northern Nigeria; the war mongering epistles of a sizeable number of them and the cautionary messages that were tempered with words of wisdom (mostly by politicians with presidential or (s)elective ambitions); I can hear an Igbo leader amongst the leaders, caution that the rise and rise in the butchering of the Igbo and the demonstrations that followed the fuel subsidy removal were inter-related.

That they are part of the “bring down Jonathan presidency conspiracy.” I can almost picture him brag, banging his hand on the table that it would not happen, since it was the Igbo, who literally put Jonathan where he is today. “Whatever happens to the president will form a road map to our continued relevance in the affairs of this land.”
I can hear another prominent Igbo leader caution, from investment perspective that the Igbo have invested so much in Nigeria, the north in particular not to be seen to be in the forefront beating the drum of war and or the disintegration of Nigeria.

That on the short run, the Igbo would lose more than any tribe should something bad happen to Nigeria. I can hear an Igbo, who was dramatis personae in the days leading to the Nigerian civil war caution his mates with Moloch’s zeal. “Oji oso agbakwuru ogu, amaghi na ogu bu onwu.” – he who embraces war headlong ought to know that war is death. I can hear him almost break down like Dee Sam would do, admonishing his compeers that the Nigeria of today is different from the Nigeria of pre-1967. One can also see the saboteurs in the midst of the leaders with their BB cell-phones recording the contributions of the radical elements in the group for onward transmission to their paymasters. After the rancorous debates, however, came a resolution as captured in the communiqué issued. It read like this:

“We are angry and strongly condemn the spate of killings going on in the country, especially as it affects Ndigbo; we, however, commend the efforts of the federal government in containing the situation; we have set up a committee to monitor the development as it unfolds and advice on future actions; we assure our people living in the north and other parts of the country that we are in constant touch with the various state governments to ensure the security of their lives and property.” Hmm.

The words in bold letters were deliberately highlighted by me.
Compare the meeting and its outcome with that which was held at the residence of Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu at Independence layout area, same Enugu, the night before. The conveners (which I think is the Igbo military wing or the budding Hamas of our time) was chaired by Chief Ralph Uwazurike, with Chief Ozobu, the radical Igbo jurist and former President of Ohaneze Ndigbo in attendance.

That meeting from the communiqué it generated, I can tell you, was more businesslike. It was more of it, (what the Igbo needed at this time in its present dark search for direction), as attendees vented their anger without fear of being taped for subsequent transmission to some paymasters in Sokoto. It was a true Igbo leadership meeting not in search of applause from Nigeria. Before that meeting, the new fiery leader of the Igbo, in the person of Uwazurike had spat fires threatening that the “Igbo’ll fight back.” Then that communiqué signed by him and which read like this:

“After our meeting on Saturday January 28, 2012 at the Enugu residence of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, we announced that Ndigbo living in the Northern part of the country should send back home their wives and children while the men could stay back to monitor their investments in the various states of the North… in the face of this, we hereby insist that our people in the North should bring back their wives and children who we believe are vulnerable to sudden attacks and we urge those who had already returned to remain at home to watch events in the North… as soon as we finish the burial of our leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, we would be ready to take concrete steps to tackle any Igbo challenge that comes our way…”

Since after the communiqué, the Igbo leadership – Uwazurike faction, has followed up words with action. It had procured twenty luxury buses and deployed same to the north for immediate evacuation of Ndigbo from Northern Nigeria. Communiqués are like placards. Communiqués are not frivolous in concept. When communiqués are issued, it behooves those for whom the messages are directed at, to read between the lines, take notes, take steps to ameliorate inherent wrongs and or eternally, beware.

That’s why in most cases, serious communiqués are neither verbose nor are they lengthy. Communications experts have all agreed that the most effective communiqués are those that are terse, simple and direct in addressing the subject matter. They are there, point-by-point, line by line and subject by subject. From the contents of the communiqués issued by the two apex Igbo bodies, you could see that the meetings held in Enugu, for the first time, centered on the SPATE of butchering of the Igbo in Nigeria.

And that the leaders are ANGRY. And so, when the Igbo begin to issue communiqués after long deliberations that involved political leaders of varied philosophical persuasions, somebody should really get worried. Igbocentric communiqués come once in a very long while!

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